Vol. 5 Num 428 Tue. August 09, 2005  

"Being marooned on an island would be a blessing in disguise." --Tarana
Tarana Halim wears many hats: as actress, director and lawyer. In the TV play Julekha's Ghar (1996) she powerfully enacts the role of a garment worker. In Abar Ekti Jhuddo Chai (1999) she plays the part of a woman subjected to domestic violence.

Currently she is busy directing and scriptwriting for the documentary Jebon Jekhane Jamon. This fortnightly programme, aired on Channel-i, covers subjects such as child labour, prostitution, marriage and teenage love affairs. The programme has won plaudits and bagged three awards as best documentary.

In a telephonic conversation, she talks on a gamut of issues. There is a qualification however--"I am very serious," she warns.

Your idea of life?
To me life is a journey with varied stoppages--somewhat like a bus. Life goes on with its combination of sorrow, happiness, desire and fulfillment. A combination of these emotions is what I call life.

Any memories you would like to share?
I recall the deep relationship of my parents. When my mother died a year ago, my father told us not to hold him back in this world. They were so much in love with each other that he wanted to join her in the other world. We begged him to stay for our sake but he wanted to go. Eventually he died a year later.

This is a memory I cherish. It just goes to show that love is not just demonstration but a deep emotion. It is different today and the younger generation talks openly about love.

What makes you tick?
The affection of my family, children and husband makes me go. At work there is my determination to contribute to society's betterment.

Any humorous stories?
I have a good smile with crooked teeth. When I was seven or eight years old, my father took me to the dentist to get rid of one tooth. The dentist, however, said that it looked cute and I should keep it.

Who are your role models?
A combination of several personalities such as Begum Rokeya, Mother Teresa and Bangabandhu. Begum Rokeya had the courage to stand up and call for women's rights. She made women realise that there was a life for them outside the home and children through education and work.

What is a source of inspiration for you?
The helplessness of suffering people--be it in the slums, women being tortured, or the deprived--inspires me to work for their betterment. It may not be on a large scale but I want to do my bit for society through my writing, work and cultural activities.

I dream of a world without poverty, violence, gender inequality. It is a world of peace and prosperity where everyone would enjoy their rights.

What would you do if you were marooned on an island?
Being marooned on an island would be a blessing in disguise. I would be happy to be out of a messy life--picking up children from school, cooking, helping out with homework and paying family visits when one is neck deep in work.

Any similarity between the strong women you portray in your work and the real you?
I don't fit into the mould of the superwoman. Although I want to be like such a character, in reality I am emotional and soft-hearted. Sometimes it is to the extent that I forget my rights as an individual.

You could say that I am strong on honesty and sincerity but vulnerable emotionally. You could call me 'emotionally submissive' when it comes to my children--two boys of 7 and 16 years. Thankfully this is not always the case with my husband, actor Ahmed Rubel.

What's next for you?
I want champion the causes that are dear to me--women's rights and my law practice, among others. I would like to continue in my struggle against the narrow mindedness of people and society. Sometimes I feel alone on this journey because though there are like-minded people, they are willing to make compromises with their values.

Illustration: Mustafa Zaman